Reduce your risk of diabetes

According to the National Diabetes Education Program you can reduce your risk of diabetes by making healthier food choices and adding more physical activity to your daily routine.

Did you know that as you get older your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases? If you have a family history of diabetes, are overweight or are over the age of 60 you are at risk for developing pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.

The good news is that there are steps you can take starting today to help prevent or delay the onset of this disease. According to the National Diabetes Education Program, increasing physical activity and choosing healthy foods to eat are two of the most important steps. By eating healthier and being physically active, you can slowly work toward your goal of losing five to seven percent of your body weight. This small weight loss can help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.

Here are some tips you can use to eat healthier:

  • Watch the portion sizes of your meals to reduce the amount of food you eat.
  • Use MyPlate to help with meal planning. Contact your local MSU Extension office for more information about MyPlate.
  • Make half of each meal a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat bread over refined grain choices.
  • Remember that all dairy products come in reduced fat or fat-free choices.
  • A portion of meat, poultry or fish is two to three ounces or about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Include heart-healthy fats such as olive or canola oil, nuts and seeds as part of your daily meal plan.

Start out slowly to build up your physical activity especially if you haven’t been exercising. Your daily activity should build toward a goal of 30 minutes a day. Start with a little exercise each day and gradually increase the time until you reach your goal. Physical activities should include those that will increase your strength, flexibility and balance. Gentle stretching will help increase your flexibility and warm-up muscles for more active exercise. Try to enjoy being more physically active with some fun activities.

  • Walking is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to be more physically active. Choose a safe place to walk and be sure you have good fitting walking shoes.
  • Plan ways to make more trips around your house when walking.
  • Turn off the television or change channels at the TV rather than using the remote control.
  • Park farther away from the post office, bank and stores.
  • Dancing can be done anywhere you can turn on the music.
  • Swimming is a great activity especially if walking is a problem or you need to be gentle on painful joints.

Ask your doctor what other activities might be safe for you if you have limited physical ability. Remember that every day you have the choice to eat healthier and be more physically active. These little daily steps will lead you toward a healthier lifestyle and reduce your risk of diabetes. For more information about reducing the risk of diabetes, contact the National Diabetes Education Program at or call 1-888-693-NDEP (6337).

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